tv Grandmere CSPAN August 23, 2017 4:19am-4:37am EDT
>> it really was not until my grandmother's funeral that i realized it really kind of hit me that she was really a special person and something of a celebrity in seeing the president, two ex-presidents and one future president and all sorts of ambassadors and other diplomatic people there, very important people that it really dawned on me my gosh she really was important. we never thought of her in that way. we never viewed my grandmother grandmother -- she was only a grandmother to us and that's all she ever wanted to be to us. i was born january 3, 1942.
my father was elliott and elliott was the second oldest of the sons, the third oldest of the children so my dad kind of fell right in the middle and i think he always felt that he was the middle child but my uncles used to claim that he was my grandmother's favorite. i'm not sure that was true. my mother and father were divorced when i was only two and my time with my father was really quite limited and as a consequence, you know the only thing that i can remember really him talking about was how he
almost felt somewhat estranged from my grandmother because, i mean he loved her dearly, but she was so busy that it was almost that he felt that she didn't have time for him. my grandmother by her own admission was not a particularly good mother. her own experience of not having a mother to grow up with, she never learned how to be a mother, good or bad and as a consequence, i think she paid
special attention to her grandchildren to make up for not reading a good mother. i can remember going for quite lengthy walks in the woods with my grandmother and she would always want to know what my interests were and as a child at seven, eight, nine years old gosh here's my grandmother paying attention to me wanting to know how my life is going and she very seldom talked about, until we were much older, she very seldom talked about her work and the things that she did as i said, until we were considerably older. she was a typical grandmother but my grandmother was a horrible cook.
she did not cook but you know she always made time for the grandchildren that were there and they had a very special place, and we had the run of the place. we were very, very busy but i just remember the times that i had with her and just being with her and really basking in her love really. >> host: how was she has a grandmother? was she any type of disciplinary and poor was she an indulgent grandmother? >> guest: she was very indulgent. she was absolutely no
disciplinarian whatsoever. she was very, very indulgent of all of us and we, you know, there were a lot of times when she would have someone who was quite famous visiting her and you know the grandchildren would disturb her or disturb them and she would never scold us. she would just say you know, my grandchild or whatever and that was it. it was no problem. >> do you remember any particular dignitaries or person of importance that came to visit when you guys were particularly obnoxious? >> guest: well there is the story of a little 7-year-old who
was out in the pool with his cousins and of course we were not allowed to go into the stone cottage which is where the pool is for the restroom and of course as a child you always waited until the absolute last moment and so the story goes this little boy ran right through "grandmere"'s office water flying off of him and what not and right as my grandmother met chiang kai-shek. she said well that was my grandson, david and i will introduce him on his way back. so there was no schooling whatsoever, but that's the way it was. >> host: you mentioned you didn't really get how famous or
important or grandmother was until her funeral at any point was there any indication of her fame or her public service growing up? >> guest: oh sure. there were times when i would accompany my grandmother to various activities that she was doing. i remember one down in texas when she came in she was going to speak at a black church down in i believe it was houston, i believe and i went with her and to see the adoration that these people, and people were lined up in the streets waiting for her and you know it was so touching.
of course i was older at that time. i can remember times when she did not receive such warm welcome as well. i did not have the opportunity to travel with her internationally. my older brother and sister dated in some of my other cousins but i did not, unfortunately. >> host: what were some of the things, the negative perception that your grandmother received and what was your reaction to that? >> guest: well, you know i can remember a few cases where there would be within the crowd there would these signs that were derogatory toward my grandmother and you know, it didn't bother me so much because i knew that
at the time i knew that she was controversial. i don't know if you realize that during her lifetime, there were 19 attempts to assassinate her so you know, she was not universally loved by any stretch of the imagination. >> host: what was the talk at the dinner table when you know, talking about someone tried to kill grandma? what did the family do? >> guest: well you know for the most part it was not talked about. it was certainly not discussed, you know, in a lot of cases. it was just well, you know, it
happened or the kkk put the largest bounty on her head that they have ever done for anyone and there was one occasion when some of the kkk had an opportunity to assassinate her, a very good opportunity so the story goes, they couldn't bring themselves to kill this woman. so yeah it was very real, very real. >> host: did your grandmother ever speak about a? >> guest: never, never and certainly not to her grandchildren. she never had personal protection whatsoever and i think that she just accept did
that her work was too important to allow any kinds of threats to disturb her and she just went right on doing her thing. >> host: do you remember at all your relationship with fdr and did eleanor talk about it when you all were growing up? >> guest: well it's interesting, first i was too young to really remember my grandfather buts i don't recall my grandmother ever specifically discussing fdr with us. you know, they had an interesting if you will, relationship.
certainly it was not the kind of marriage that one would think of as a normal marriage and yet they had such a strong partnership and they had such respect for each other and each other's work really that it really made it quite a special relationship i think. if i would ask my grandmother about fdr she would answer and it was always very positive, very loving if you will. but she did not dwell on that at all. you know i don't think my grandmother really enjoyed being first lady, being married to the president although i think she realized after fdr became
president that it placed her in a position where she could have impact in the areas that she was really interested in herself, civil rights, human rights obviously, things like that, education so it really was quite a striking partnership between those two. >> host: when did your grandmother passed away? >> guest: 1962. >> host: 's do you remember the day that you were told that she had passed? >> guest: oh yes. i was in texas and i immediately left to come back up here and it
was a terrible shock. it's funny, i don't think i ever really believed that she would never pass away but it left quite a hole in my heart. >> host: why did you decide to write a book about her, your grandmother? just go well, that's interesting because i really had no interest in writing yet another free of my grandmother and yet no one had ever written anything from a personal standpoint, if you will and i thought it would be kind of fun for people to know about my grandmother and from a dif of
a grandchild who knew her. i think there is a lot of misconception about my grandmother and what she wanted to try to accomplish. the thing that impresses me the most about my grandmother is she really didn't care what other people thought. she would do what she felt was in the best interest for helping people, helping mankind actually that was always the thing that impressed me the most. the only thing that i recall, and i think she told every one of her grandchildren, was be proud of your hair at age, be proud of the traditions of your family but never feel that you
have to live up that legacy. you must be your own person. that is something that all of us carried with us for our entire lives. >> we are here on the river walk and historic wilmington and we continue our look into the city's nonfiction literary culture. we will hear one author story. >> standing right here in front of the eighth eight for more of which was put up on the 100th anniversary of the events here that occurred in wilmington in december of 1998 but it was a long time coming and it was sort of controversial because there were many citizens both black and white they really wanted to forget the whole thing and the black community thought that if